I’ll Never Ask

I was sick a couple of weekends ago. I spent forty-eight hours in complete misery. I don’t do sick with any grace whatsoever. I cried, felt bad for myself, and moaned, all while quarantined in the guest room.

And my children were fine. Actually, they were more than fine.

They went to the library, to the grocery store, and for a long walk.

They played games, blocks, and babies.

They were bathed, loved, tickled, and read to.

All while I lay in bed on what felt like the verge of death.

I could hear squeals of laughter, the muted, happy tones of back and forth daddy-daughter conversations, and endless Matthew giggles.

My husband.

He brought me water, then broth, then soup, and finally toast. He made certain that my bucket was clean and nearby.

He anticipated my every need and rubbed my back when I cried.

When I finally emerged, weak from my stomach flu-inflicted stupor, the house was completely clean, the dishes done, laundry folded and put away. I can’t remember the last time that my washer and dryer were not only empty, but had no clothes piled on top.

The refrigerator had even been cleaned out.

He stepped in and took my place. He filled the shoes that I so often feel like I can’t even begin to fill.

He accomplished more in forty-eight hours than I do in a week.

And, although I appreciated having the time to focus on my misery, when I emerged, I was filled with conflicting emotions.

My children were smiling and clean.

My house had not fallen down around me.

Meals had been made, eaten without complaint, and cleaned up.

And I had no hand in any of it.

If I’m honest, there was a part of me that was uncomfortable with the realization that the rhythm of my family continued in my absence; I suspect that perhaps things went even more smoothly.

I looked around, hoping for a stray sock, a dirty plate, a misplaced toy.


Craig had not only coped with my absence, but he had excelled where I often feel like I’m just barely hanging on.

I should have been happy with that. Our children were happy, loved, and content.¬†Why wasn’t I?

So much of my self-worth at this point in my life is tied up in my role as a mother. This job of mothering is incredibly difficult in that there are no performance reviews, no raises or promotions. No pats on the back for a job well done. No real way to measure success.

When someone steps in and appears to do your job better than you do, it’s humbling and disconcerting.

But, there’s a huge part of me that finds comfort in knowing that Craig handles it all with such ease. I know that if something should ever happen to me, he could handle things. He would remember which outfits match Katie’s brown shoes and how to do her hair. I know that he would make Matthew smile and help him grow into an amazing man.

Then, two days after my return to the land of the living, Matthew was sitting in his highchair and his sippy cup completely leaked. It had been incorrectly put back together. Craig had somehow missed one of the eighteen puzzle-like pieces necessary for a leak-free cup.

And I stood in the kitchen, looked at the massive puddle and Matthew’s soaked shirt, and I smiled.

I’m fairly certain that Craig threw me a bone.

But, I’ll never ask.


  1. Awesome! Your husband deserves a medal, but also… I've totally been in your shoes and felt the same way and you put it really well. Just remember it's much easier to temporarily fill shoes than put them on permanently and know you're there for the long, long, long haul. I hope you're done with sickness for the rest of the winter. *hugs*

  2. OMG!! I LOVE this post!!! So beautifully written! Josh is the SAME way. He gets more done on a Saturday with the kids than I do in a WEEK! I think Craig and Josh would be fast friends. We must get them together. Craig probably did throw you a bone! He is one of the best!

  3. Paige Morgan

    My husband always plays the domestic role better than I do, but a great marriage is balance and give and take. I think it''s wonderful that Craig stepped up (many husbands do not), but I bet you a few weeks and he'd hand the job back over! As you said, it's tough and there are no promotions (unless you count having more children).

    I am glad you're feeling better and from the little time I've spent with you I am know you're an amazing mother and Craig wouldn't even need to throw you a bone!

  4. I know exactly how you feel. But also know that someone filling in temporarily is not the same as someone who does this every day. He was probably EXHAUSTED by the end of the few day. He probably worked his butt double or triple time to get this all done, knowing that it would make all the difference for you. This makes him ever better for it, but also it could not be something that would necessarily be sustained long term.

  5. Good for you. For acknowledging your feelings. For sharing with everyone else. For choosing a husband who COULD step up like that (mine is wonderful and would have good intentions, but matching shoes and outfits? Doing my daughter's hair? It would be caveman central around here…)

    Glad you're feeling better. And I'd better not get the flu.

  6. mommysparadise

    I was never really sick since we had our son so this situation didin't come up yet but I just know, my Hubs would be able to pull it off for a short while, one day or two. He would be fine, doing a lot of things completely different then I do, and I'm sure some of it much better. But I think he, and a lot of partners, are not doing these household/parenting things in everyday life when they are not forced to do it by some unusual event.

  7. JDareG

    Love this and I can so relate!

  8. SquashedMom

    You can not even begin to fathom the depths of my envy at this point.

    I was home recovering from SURGERY and my husband couldn't even handle the morning routine our 8 year old kids have gone through for 4 years now without coming in to wake me up & check with me about some part of it or other 4 times in an hour and a half. And while I was seriously messed up for about two weeks, only for the first 5 days did my husband do the whole routine. After that I was up at 6am to get the kids ready, he just did the physical take them down to the bus / get them to school part. Because he was too tired. AND cleaning up? About 20% of the job got done. And then he was shocked & hurt when I didn't coo over how well he had "taken care of me" after the surgery.

    All of you people who have husbands who are amazing fathers/caretakers like Craig? Cherish them, please!

  9. Jessica fourplusanangel.com

    I absolutely love this post. You are one lucky lady, my husband would do an AMAZING job keeping the kids happy but the house? Well that would probably crumble around them while I was in bed. Beautiful post.

  10. Alexandra174

    Oh, that was the cutest closing I have ever read.

    Adorable…and do I have to say it?

    Mamapedia forwardable.

    I loved it.

  11. I liketo think that when our men come in for the rescue, they are refreshed. I think that they work doubly hard to impress us with what they can accomplish. I don't think it's to make us feel bad, but to show us that they can rock the parenting gig too ;)

  12. julie_s

    I know just how you feel. My husband was home yesterday since we were snowed in, and I didn't feel well. He was cleaning in circles around me! It was nice, but makes me feel inadequate sometimes. I won't complain though.

  13. TamingInsanity

    Your husband is the best dude. Seriously, so the best.

  14. Jaime ainsleylynn.blogspot.com

    So stinking sweet…but I have to ask…are you sure he didn't call in reinforcements?

  15. You two give me hope for an awesome marriage.


  16. God, I'm so with you on this. LoL

  17. nopointsforstyle

    Awww, my dear, doing it for two days is entirely doing it all the time.You are blessed to have Craig (and I know, of course, that you have never forgotten that for a minute), but your family needs you. Don't think for one minute that they don't!

  18. Ahh…I'm with SquashedMom up there. My husband means well, and he tries to help. Kinda. If I were in that situation? He would keep the kids alive & clothed (poorly), but that's about it. As far as feeding me, rubbing anything, or tending to my sick bucket? So not happening. He might leave me alone to sleep. He's gotten pretty good about that, at least..

    I do understand where you're coming from tho. It is important to me to feel necessary to my family. To feel needed. Not TOO needed that I can't be sick without the house falling apart and the children starving…but needed enough that things don't run quite right without my special motherly input. :)

    And actually? I don't think I'd want my husband doing too much housework. He doesn't get why you can't wash jeans with whites. Also? I'd never be able to find anything ever again. LoL

  19. another fantastic post, N!
    I wish my husband stepped up to that plate like that. He can do pretty well, but he'd never clean out the fridge. And the laundry might be 1/2 done, but not all put away nicely….
    love your perspective and honesty here. I felt similarly when I had hernia surgery in November…although my mom came in town to help out for a few days then, so hubs wasn't completely on his own!

  20. Natalie mycrazybusylife.com

    Love it! There are times when I feel like my husband would make a better SAHM than I would. I leave for a few hours and come home to a clean house, dinner & happy kids. If I get sick? The house doesn’t collapse without me running it.
    My saving grace is that even though I married a loving, sweet, competant man.. He couldn’t dress our daughter or fix her hair to save his life.

  21. Efloraross thewriterrevived.com

    You? Are a very lucky woman. But I know you know that. ;)

  22. fordeville

    Wow. Just wow. Great post and I can totally understand how you felt.__But the cynic in me wonders if, in your sick haze, you slept through any assistance or a drive-by from your MIL, SIL or other empathetic helper :)

  23. Yuliya shesuggests.com/

    As mothers we wonder all the time, are we doing a good job? Are we doing enough? Did we make the right choices?
    Rest assured because you nailed the most important choice..picking an amazing partner to do this parenting journey with.
    (okay not nailed like dirty nailed, you know what I mean)

  24. Wow, Craig rocks! I know what you mean about not knowing how to feel about it, but it sure is nice to not be left with picking up the pieces, too. Great post!

  25. ksluiter

    This was my reaction when I went back to work and Cort assumed "stay at home dad" role. He tackled everything on the To Do list with gusto…and did a GREAT job. I remember at first feeling like a fail of a mom. He could do so much more than I could. He had a great amount of patience. I had a better organizational strategy. He was smiling when I came through the door.

    Then I started to realize that when he cleaned the bathroom every Tuesday? He wasn't wiping around the base of the toilet near the floor and it was really dusty.

    And that made me smile.

  26. Sherri

    Craig? He's a total keeper. And your post hits something I think we all think about in our private moments…what if I weren't here? Who would know to send the PE clothes in clean on Monday and anticipate that toilet paper was running low?

    I think Craig DID throw you a bone, and you are wise not to ask….

    I am always somewhat amazed at how my family functions when I am gone, even though they don't do things MY way. So it's not like I'm replaceable, but some of my functions can be downsized and nobody's the wiser.

  27. CDG

    MY husband, while capable, is just-getting-by kind of guy. I would loved to be one-upped a little.

    And I'm guessing that sippy cup thing was in no way a thrown-bone. Some of those thing stump me still, and I've been around the sippy cup aisle, if you know what I mean.

  28. Tim@sogeshirts

    Craig is awesome. You both are such great parents. Love Booyahdad. The juice cup is definitely a mystery.

  29. andygirl

    you have such an awesome husband! he's so sweet and caring. I love that. you guys rock my socks.

    but you forgot one thing he didn't have to do while you were sick: manage a blog. :)

  30. kris

    My husband has stepped up like this when I have been sick. And I have had those moments of, "Wait! What do you mean everything can run smoothly without me?" I asked Mark about it one time.

    He said something like, "I know you worry too much. And when you are sick? I want you to worry only about getting better. The girls and I can manage without you for a few days, but we are aware the entire time that we are managing without you. So get better and stop being so silly."

    Mark kicks ass.

    And so does Craig.

  31. What an amazing husband you have! But honestly? Keeping things going in a smooth fashion isn't so difficult if you are only doing it for two days. As a mom, you're doing it EVERYDAY. Things fall behind, and after a while, you get exhausted. I'm sure that if you two switched places, he would have the same, if not similar daily struggles as you do. It's just all a part of being a parent, which is a huge responsibility all in its own. (At least, this is what I speculate. For I am not of the motherish sort as of yet.) ;) Blessings!

  32. Tonya lettersforlucas.com

    Your husband rocks! And if I know him at all (through Twitter and your blog), I bet he did throw you a bone, as you said. :) The good ones always do.

    Glad you are feeling better. Being sick sucks when you have children.

  33. Tracie ww.fromtracie.com

    Clearly Craig is awesome.

    My husband would do okay with the cleaning part, but he would do it while playing some incredibly loud, made up game with our daughter. They would have a blast and I would be laying there praying for quiet and trying to sleep. But even then, I don't think that is much for me to complain about.

  34. Leighann

    Great post and relatable. We so badly want their help but we also want to be needed

  35. Chantelle momwentcrazy.com

    I love your blog! This is so the opposite of what would happen at my house!

    I read your blog faithfully. I don't always comment, but I always enjoy. A lot of times I'll be cuddling with my girls and I'm thinking of a way to write it so beautifully that it will make it onto "small moments mondays!"

  36. I think I know how you would feel. THIS is my identity…for someone else (anybody else really) to be able to come in and do it and do it well…well, that's a little threatening. I have no other purpose…I am wife…I am mother…that's what I do. I don't know how my hubby would do…I assume he would fail. BUt maybe, just maybe, the buffoon image is just that, an image, a facade. Maybe he could really funciton without me!

  37. This is such a beautiful post. I had a similar experience when I went away for a weekend a few weeks back. I was so nervous to be leaving but then one day on my trip I realized I was more nervous at how well they'd get along without me. My husband is always considered the fun one. I'm always the to-do list one. The moment I came home I decided I needed to change. I started doing "crazy mommy time" with my kids – get a little out of the box. It's hard to ever feel not needed. Especially as a mom. But trust me, just like my kids still think I'm fun your kids & husband definitely need you & notice when you're not around.

  38. Mandyland inmandyland.com

    I loved this post. You picked such a great guy, but, honestly? I'd feel the same way. :)

  39. Way to step up to the plate, Craig!

    Ryan gets more done with the kids than I do, but I also notice they are better behaved with him. He's more of a novelty when he's doing things like cleaning/making lunch/etc. Right? (see me trying to rationalize it?)

  40. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    Are you sure you don't need a sister wife?

  41. What a great husband to take such good care of you and the kids while you were sick. But make no mistake, mom is irreplaceable :) Good to know though that you have a great man to hold down the fort when needed. You two obviously make a great team!

  42. tulpen tulpensbadwords.blogspot.com

    Next time I'm sick, may I borrow your husband?

  43. Keep in mind that no matter what a dad does when left in charge, it will never take the place of the way moms do things. We have our methods (most of which are holistically unacceptable) but y'all can never be replaced. It's ok… poor mommy. :)

  44. I know how you feel. My Husband steps up and does all the things that I do but normally does them better. I know that he does them because he loves me. We are lucky women!

    Visiting from The Red Dress Club, have a great weekend!

  45. Elizabeth realestatetangent.com

    Wow. Can your husband come over when I'm sick? Mine is not nearly that useful. (here via the Studio 30+ spotlight.)

  46. ~*Jess*~ straighttalkjess.com

    That is one good dude. And we are so caught up in having to do it all we somehow feel bad that we didn't and had to "inconvenience" anyone. Crazy talk. But I'm glad you are feeling better.

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